Taste America 2008

Beautiful Polish-American Minds

by Barbara B. Andersen, PhD

For the third consecutive year, on Thursday, July 31, 2008, the Polish American Congress (PAC) represented American Polonia at the annual Taste America event held in the U.S. Capitol.

Taste America has for the past 15 years drawn approximately 650-700 persons a year to a unique reception held exclusively for all members of the House of Representatives and Senate, and their families.

The event, traditionally held in the Members' Dining Room of the U.S. Capitol (it is the only public event that today has authorization to take place in that that historic setting), gathered approximately two dozens exhibitors, including the Polish American Congress.

Each year, the event has a different theme. In response to this year's "Beautiful Minds", the PAC Washington D.C. Office prepared a large display showcasing several Polish Americans and people of Poland who were responsible for scientific inventions and artistic contributions of greatest importance through the centuries.

Each year, the event has a different theme. In response to this year's "Beautiful Minds", the PAC Washington D.C. Office prepared a large display showcasing several Polish Americans and people of Poland who were responsible for scientific inventions and artistic contributions of greatest importance through the centuries.

Roughly 150 of those unique and truly "beautiful" Polish American minds were selected and presented on specially designed posters in six categories: 

  1. Polish-American Nobel Prize Winners,
  2. Entrepreneurship and Business
  3. Literature and Arts,
  4. Military, Activism and Politics,
  5. Silver Screen, and
  6. Science.

On each poster, two particularly successful persons were highlighted, for example Martha Stewart and Steve Wozniak (co-inventor of Apple computer) on the Entrepreneurship and Business poster, Matt Urban and Zbigniew Brzezinski on the Military, Activism and Politics poster, or Charles Bronson and Janusz Kaminski [director of photography of numerous blockbusters, such as The Adventures of Huck Finn (1993), Jerry Maguire (1996), Amistad (1997), Schindler's List (1993), The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997), Saving Private Ryan (1998), Artificial Intelligence: AI (2001), Minority Report (2002), Catch Me If You Can (2002), The Terminal (2004), War of the Worlds (2005), Munich (2005), or Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), to name a few] on the poster presenting Polish Americans on Silver Screen.

Those, and many other extraordinary individuals were presented in a form of a handout that visitors could take with them and review later.

In addition, a special attention was given to presentation of five very special Poles the settlers who arrived in 1608 to the Jamestown Colony as glassmakers and producers of pitch, tar and lumber both for the colony and for export to Britain. This part of the exhibit was particularly important not only for the Polish American Congress but for the entire Polish American community (Polonia) in the United States. Those five craftsmen marked the beginning of centuries of Polish presence on American soil, and this year their contribution marks American Polonia's 400th birthday! The PAC team for the third time led by Dr. Barbara B. Andersen made sure that the visitors are informed about the fact that when the Polish settlers were later denied voting rights, they organized the first, and successful, strike for civil rights on the American continent.

In addition to a gallery of posters, two tables filled with books, brochures, CDs, DVDs, pamphlets and promotional items completed the display. Everything on the tables was for visitors to take, of which the guests took full advantage. The visitors--who also received gift bags containing copies of all of the brochures, handouts and promotional items, as well as samples of the famous Polish chocolates--were also encouraged to try cold Zywiec beer.

Also in response to the event's theme, the PAC team encouraged the visitors to exercise their minds by presenting them with a variety of metal puzzles, which needed to be untangled without the use of force or tools.

As a result, hundreds of individuals attracted by the posters and the multitude of informational and promotional items on the tables visited the display. The PAC team made sure that all questions were answered and the information was shared as widely as possible. Frequent exclamations--such as "Oh really? I did not know that he/she is/was Polish!"--gave the team a sense that the display accomplished its role, that is, educating American legislators and public in general about many important contributions of persons whose familial roots go back to Poland.

We owe very special thanks to our sponsors. It was thanks to the generosity of the Amtec International distributor of the Zywiec beer (NY), Polish and Slavic Center (NY), Polish and Slavic Federal Credit Union (NY), and Smithfield Foods (VA) that our display was possible and such a great success. We wholeheartedly thank for your support and are looking forward to working with you in the future.

We also would like to thank Anna Puskarz and Piotr Suchecki (left), Washington DC Office summer associates, for their help in designing and developing the display, and for their enthusiasm and dedication in educating the visitors during the event.

All photos by Mr. Witold Dzielski, Embassy of Poland, Washington DC.

 

Additional items of interest:

1. Press release by the Embassy of Poland;
2. Letter from Dr. Susanne Lotarski, President of the Washington Metropolitan Area Division of the Polish American Congress, to Barbara Andersen

 Dr. Andersen with Robert Kupiecki, Ambassador of the Republic of Poland to the United States.

 
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